Sporadic protests break out in Marikana

There is a heavy police presence in the area as residents blockade roads with burning tyres.

Sporadic protests by Amcu members erupted in informal settlements around Marikana on 13 May 2014. Picture: Govan Whittles/EWN.

MARIKANA - Sporadic protests have broken out in townships around Marikana in the North West on Tuesday.

There is a heavy police presence in the area.

Anglo American Platinum (Amplats), Impala Platinum (Implats) and Lonmin employees have been on strike since the end of January, demanding a basic salary of R12,500 per month.

Residents blockaded roads with burning tyres.

A local vendor stand was also set alight despite the increased police presence.

The protest comes ahead of Lonmin's decision to restart operations from tomorrow and the killing of three workers who tried to report for duty.

With the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) wage strike now into its fourth month, non-unionised mineworkers have spoken out about a climate of fear on the platinum belt and brutal attacks on workers who dare report for duty.

Two people were killed at the weekend.

A 60-year-old man was also found dead in the area on Monday.

Police suspect the man was stabbed to death while walking to work.

Eyewitness News spoke to a mineworker who was stabbed 15 times and left to die shortly after returning from work.

The 28-year-old Lonmin employee, who spoke to Eyewitness News on condition of anonymity, said his community is paralysed with fear and anyone who goes to work while Amcu is on strike has become a target.

He is employed as a general worker at Lonmin's Marikana mine and was attacked a month after the strike started.

"They started slamming me with pangas. My arm was chopped off and my left hand doesn't work properly. They even stabbed me near my heart."

The man said his community has been torn apart and tensions remain high.

He said he fears he may be targeted again for speaking out against what he calls a "culture of intimidation".

Speaking in Rustenburg on Monday, Amcu leaders told Amplats workers not to be intimidated by the increased police presence on the platinum belt.

Employees have been told to remain resolute in their strike and to ignore an SMS campaign by the mining companies pleading with them to return to work.

Amcu's regional shaft steward addressed hundreds of miners.

Responding to the death of three workers since the weekend, he said that propaganda had been used by the company to divide workers.

He said workers still stood united behind the Amcu demand.

The mass meeting concluded with Amcu leaders pleading with the miners to remain peaceful and to continue the strike.

The situation in Marikana remains tense and police have now advised people to leave the area before nightfall.

At the same time, platinum producers have bypassed the union and approached the employees directly in what is being seen as an unusual method of negotiation.

Paul Fouche, head of the Labour Employment and Human Rights Department at Fasken Martineau, says while this isn't the norm, there is nothing in our law that prohibits an employer from speaking to employees.

"In general, it is allowed in law and it is a method that employers do sometimes use."

But Fouche says there may be, from a legal point of view, provisions in collective agreements or recognition agreements that state a duty of good faith.